The B-52’s, the legendary 80’s Cosmic Rockers, touched down in Orlando for a show in the new Amway Center this weekend. WMMO, Orlando’s Classic Rock station hosted the free show. Typically these shows are hit or miss, and it’s always a dice roll as to whether you get a band playing with passion or just collecting a paycheck. Honestly I sensed a little bit of both on this night. The current edition of the touring B-52’s includes all four original living members. Front man Fred Schneider and fellow vocalist Cindy Wilson seemed to be going through the motions most of the night. On the opposite side of the specturm, guitarist Keith Strickland and timeless singer Kate Pierson were absolutely engaged and on the top of their game.
The other three touring members are all accomplished rockers and did a fine job keeping the rhythm and keys fresh throughout the evening. Stirling Campbell (Cindy Lauper, Soul Asylum) was on drums and Paul Gordon (New Radicals, Goo Goo Dolls) manned the keyboards. Former Waitresses member Tracy Wormworth was on bass.
Pierson’s vocals were spectacular throughout the night, and she still looks and moves like she did in the eighties. Truly amazing! Strickland seemed stoked from the first song, played with energy and gave a nice heart-felt close at the end of the show. Fred was noticeable, but lethargic, and his voice is showing signs of the many tours under his belt.
The show kicked off with a decent version of “Pump,” and then immediately moved to one of their classics, “Private Idaho.” Over the course of the evening they played 17 songs in their 80 minute set and played all of their classics including “Mesopotamia,” “52 Girls,” “Roam” and “Cosmic Thing.” The band was tight, and the musicianship was excellent all night.
Fred took a brief break in the middle of the set, and Kate Pierson moved front and center, and blew the crowd away on the lead for “Roam” and “52 Girls” with Wilson. Schneider then returned with a strong version of “Party Out of Bounds.”
They closed their set with a great sing-along version of “Love Shack” that had the crowd on its feet. The band returned for an excellent two song encore that kicked off with absolutely stunning vocals from Pierson. As the band kicked into Planet Claire, which s probably my favorite B-52’s tune, Pierson sang the entire intro perfectly on pitch. True confession – I always thought that intro was a synthesizer and not vocals. Absolutely fantastic! The song was great and raised the fever pitch of the crowd for their signature closing song, “Rock Lobster,” which brought the house down.
All-in-all, I’m glad I finally got to see these guys live, but can’t help but wonder how much better they were when they were all at their peak.
The band is touring in support of their just released live album, With the Wild Crowd! (Live In Athens, GA), that features many of the songs in the setlist noted below. Check it out on i-Tunes.
Finally, a shout out to the folks at WMMO. Due to tropical storm-like deluges, the show was moved from an outdoor venue to the modern new arena at the last minute. Kudos to WMMO and the City for pulling off that feat flawlessly.
Thanks – Mike G.
Give Me Back My Man
Party Out of Bounds
Love in the year 3000